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If Harry Potter led marketing operations, where would his team sit?

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You’ve just graduated from MOpswarts and been declared a marketing ops (MOps) wizard. As you step off the train armed with a wand, sweet robes and cache of spells, you’re ready to help your company thrive with martech magic.

You’re especially jazzed about the AlohoMOpsa spell you found hidden away in the bowels of MOpswarts, which allows you to remake the org structure of any company and move MOps closest to the department where it can best flourish. Should it sit with marketing? Wait, maybe IT? Perhaps sales? 

Thinking of your company, you break out your MOpsrauder’s Map, and state, “I solemnly swear I’m trying to help customers,” and the options magically appear with their pros and cons.


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Move MOps closer to marketing

It is marketing operations after all, right? Maybe. Success depends on the CMO. If they see MOps as a trusted advisor and have a solid understanding of martech tools and governance, prepare for raging success. If the opposite is true, consider another department destination.

Goodies:  The closer MOps is to the heart of the marketing organization, the higher the MOps marketing IQ and empathy, focusing innovation and energy on what matters most. This enables an agile MOps organization that can power a CMO’s vision. With closer proximity to MOps, marketers are also better sensitized to martech, governance and process. The more marketers know, the more likely they will design programs that work with (and not against) MOps’ strengths.

Gotchas:  Like a Ferrari with the wrong driver, a rockstar MOps team with an unreasonable CMO can end in a fiery, Fast and Furious-like explosion. When CMOs thwart governance, ignore process and prioritization and disregard tech constraints, MOps is better situated in an adjoining department to create a protective buffer. Another gotcha to watch out for: if MOps is situated too far from IT, it will be harder to get larger systems integrations or data projects funded and prioritized.

When this works well: When CMOs truly partner with and understand MOps orgs, magic happens. CMOs must also be tight with CIOs, framing the prioritization discussions regarding revenue and ROI to get a seat at the table. If the CIO solves 500k problems, a CMO’s revenue or cost-saving opportunities must exceed that bar to gain traction. Consider funding marketing dedicated resources on the CIO’s team to benefit from IT’s overall tech bench and get marketing prioritized.

Move MOps closer to IT

Being closer to the “big iron” of infrastructure in a company can unlock sophisticated capabilities; it can also result in slower programs or efforts that stray from marketing priorities.

Goodies:  MOps teams have better access to IT budgets, prioritization processes and technical firepower, giving larger systems integrations and data projects a higher chance of success. Compared with marketing, IT orgs tend toward more structure and process, making governance easier to enable. The org buffer that being in IT creates is also useful for MOps when CMOs are unreasonable (you know who you are), making sensible pushback possible.

Gotchas:  Removed from the marketing team, MOps can lose touch with marketing pain points and stray from the CMO’s vision, resulting in strategic misfires. The sense of urgency can also be lost as the CIO’s shadow shields MOps from the heat of the CMO’s sun – or completely blots it out with other company priorities.   

When this works well: When MOps is closer to IT but funded by marketing, you get the best of two worlds: first, IT doesn’t stray from marketing priorities; second, marketing gets the benefit of IT’s technical depth needed for more sophisticated programs. Without budget or another form of authority, marketing is often too low on the IT list of priorities.

Move MOps closer to sales

The closer MOps is to customers, the tighter marketing programs are interwoven with revenue objectives. Go too far, however, and longer-term marketing priorities like brand suffer.

Goodies:  Sitting closer to customers will focus MOps like a laser on enabling revenue-producing programs. As MOps participates in sales discussions, marketing gets crisper and more focused to ensure a healthy, high-quality pipeline, as there is little support for anything that doesn’t immediately add value. The heat is also on for better, more consistent sales enablement content to keep sales leaders closing deals rather than creating decks.

Gotchas:  Sales’ intense focus on short-term revenue can come at the expense of longer-term growth. Sales orgs may not see or wish to invest in brand or other more esoteric forms of marketing that don’t generate immediate benefits for bearers of quota. While demand gen campaigns provide more tangible fuel for the sales engine, cultivating brand, advocacy or social media presence clears the road for a longer, more profitable journey.    

When this works well: Exec leadership must buy into the power of marketing to engage with customers at scale. In-person customer conversations are superior to emails or webinars but far less economical to execute. By casting a wider net, marketing can more economically identify valuable prospects and transition revenue-ready leads to sales. 

Which model is the best? No model is perfect, so it depends on your needs. Desire to power a CMOs vision to deliver world-class programs? Marketing could be your best bet. Need sophisticated programs that require deep technical expertise? Proximity to IT will help. Want to ensure sales and marketing work hand in glove? Closer to sales is a good bet. 

What if you want the benefits of all three? As RevOps matures, incredible possibilities exist in the harmonized world of sales, marketing and service. But you may have to head back to MOpswarts and find a potion or spell to crack that one. 

You close up the MOpsrauder’s Map and whisper, “AlohoMOpsa,” while flicking your wand. With revenue targets and customer delight on your mind, the company’s departments swirl before you, and you make your choice.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Spence Darrington is a Managing Director and marketing scale expert at Bridge Partners. Prior to Bridge, Spence worked for Microsoft, Expedia Group, and Ford Motor Company helping transform their marketing models to achieve scale. While at Microsoft he pioneered B2B marketing shared services for delivery, building an organization of 500+ execution experts based in hubs around the world. Spence holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a Masters in Business Administration from Purdue University. Spence lives in the Seattle, WA area.

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MARKETING

State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MARKETING

MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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